Gigster (YC S15) Hires An Elite Engineering Team For Your Software Project In Minutes

Turning an idea into an actual app is an incredibly daunting task. Elite engineering talent is very hard to find -- it often seems that there are far more software projects that people want to make than there are available developers to build them.

Gigster is a startup in our current class that takes the pain out of that process. Gigster promises to find, hire, and manage an elite engineering team for you, effectively steering any software project from start to finish.

As TechCrunch's Josh Constine writes, Gigster is like an "Uber for developers" that takes on all the "dev dirty work" for you:

"Got a startup idea? That and some cash is all you need to get a fully functional app built for you by Gigster. Launching today, Gigster is a full-service development shop, rather than a marketplace where you have to manage the talent you find.

Just go to Gigster’s site, instant message with a sales engineer, tell them what you want built, and in 10 minutes you get a guaranteed quote for what it will cost and how long it will take. Give Gigster the go-ahead, and it will manage an elite set of freelance coders and designers to build your product and give you status reports each week. Once you get your project back, Gigster will even maintain the code, and you can pay to add upgrades or new features.

...Gigster could help entrepreneurs affordably develop a minimum viable product so they can get the funding and attention they need to build a company."

Read the full story, including an interview with Gigster CEO Roger Dickey, in TechCrunch here, and participate in the related Hacker News discussion here.

Ixchel Scientific (YC S15) Can Predict How The Human Body Will React To Cancer Drugs

Even though cancer drug development has come a long way over the years, the odds of creating a new, successful treatment that will ultimately be used on patients are still astonishingly tough. In fact, some 95% of cancer drugs that make it to human trials don’t work at all. Often, this is because the drugs that seemed promising in conventional lab conditions -- plastic environments and mice models -- don't necessarily translate to actual effectiveness in the human body.

Ixchel Scientific, a startup launching out of our current class, is makes a tool that aims to more accurately predict how cancer drugs will behave in the body by creating organ-specific testing environments.

TechCrunch's Sarah Buhr wrote more in-depth about Ixchel in an article this week:

"The YC-backed startup does this by taking cancer cells that would normally be tested in a cold, hard plastic dish and puts them in the proteins of human organs instead. “Our composition of our cultures mimics what is in those organs,” co-founder Mukti Parikh told TechCrunch.

...The Ixchel method, appropriately named for the Mayan goddess of healing, opens the way to test drugs on cells that have low survival rates outside the human body, too. 'For multiple myeloma in the bone marrow it’s very difficult to test because the cells don’t survive past 24 hours. They just don’t survive at all,' Parikh said."

Read the full story about Ixchel, its technology, and how it was developed on TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.

CareLedger (YC S15) Helps Companies Give Their Employees Free, Top-Quality Healthcare

Launching this week out of our Summer 2015 class, CareLedger is a startup that aims to do what might sound impossible: Enabling companies to provide their employees with top-quality healthcare services -- at absolutely no cost to the patient.

CareLedger does this by bringing transparency to the process of finding an in-network healthcare provider at a reasonable cost. At a time when U.S. businesses are seeing a nine percent year-over-year increase in healthcare costs, and some $1 trillion a year is wasted due to inefficiencies in the healthcare cost structure, CareLedger stands to add an incredible amount of value to businesses and employees alike.

TechCrunch's Sarah Buhr wrote about how CareLedger works in a story published this week:

"The idea is to find the best service with the lowest price under an employer’s health insurance coverage and then offer those recommendations to its workers.

A colonoscopy could range from $10,000 to $1,500, for example. CareLedger finds that doctor with good ratings willing to charge closer to the $1,500 range, or within the employer’s insurance limit. The promise is this will give workers free medical help – including no deductibles, co-pays or coinsurance payments.

...CareLedger still gets paid on these free procedures, but the employer only pays the startup when the startup is able to lower the cost to a point that procedures are free to the employee. This saves both the employee’s wallet and potentially expensive overhead for the employer."

Read more about CareLedger and how it fits into the healthcare landscape in TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.




Pro Rata

For a long time, YC founders (and other investors) have asked us why we don't continue to financially support our companies after our initial investment by doing our pro rata in future rounds.  Many new investors really like to see the support of existing investors.

There were a lot of reasons why we couldn’t do this in the past. But starting in the Summer of 2014, we added a pro rata provision to our standard investment documents, and starting now, we're going to aim to support all these companies in future financing rounds by doing our pro rata. We will try to do this for every company in every round with a post-money valuation of $250 million or less.

To make it extra-clear, we're not going to lead any of these rounds or set the terms, just follow other investors.  And by doing this in every YC company, there will be no signaling issue of us supporting some companies and not others.

PickTrace (YC S15) Helps Farms Pay Their Workers Accurately And Fairly

The fruits and vegetables that you find in your grocery store's produce section are typically hand-picked by millions of field workers around the world. It's a huge industry with a huge workforce, but the systems farms use to manage and track their workers are often woefully low-tech and error-prone.

PickTrace is a startup launching out of our current class that has created a hardware and software system that brings real-time analytics to farms, enabling them to track, manage and pay their workers fairly and accurately.

TechCrunch's Christine Magee interviewed Picktrace's co-founders Austin and Harrison Steed in a post published today:

"Generally farm employees are paid by the bucket, either at flat fee or by weight, to incentivize good performance, according to Austin.

'At the end of the day, the farm has to go back through and add up numbers for each employee, and calculate minimum wage based off of piece rates,' Austin says. 'Basically during harvest season you’re constantly doing payroll.'

With PickTrace, each picker in the field is provided with a barcoded ID badge so they can check in when they start. When they finish picking, they weigh their yield at a Bluetooth-connected scale, which automatically captures the weight, location, employee and how long it took."

Read much more about PickTrace in TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.

Maderight (YC S15) Makes It Simple To Source Ethical Factories Worldwide

In recent years, it's become almost the norm for United States-based clothing designers to manufacture their products in other countries. But from thousands of miles away, it is not easy for designers to ensure that the factories they're working with are truly reliable, trustworthy, and ethical.

Maderight is a startup in our current class that streamlines and simplifies the way that clothing companies source global manufacturers. With access to a network of 49 factories in 5 countries, Maderight ensures that clothing designers are hooked up with manufacturers that are vetted for good quality control, logistics, and labor practices.

TechCrunch's Catherine Shu wrote about Maderight in a story published this week:

"As an intermediary between brands and companies, Maderight provides each of their clients with a production expert who oversees every aspect of the manufacturing process, from creating a 'tech pack,' or technical design files, to making sure completed orders are shipped to warehouses on time.

Maderight, which is also taking part in StartX, the accelerator program backed by Stanford University, works with more than 50 factories which have been audited by third-party inspectors such as SGS, Intertek, and Bureau Veritas. It regularly conducts its own checks to make sure manufacturers maintain safe working conditions, don’t use child labor, and give employees enough rest breaks."

Read more in-depth about Maderight, its founders, and its plans for the future in TechCrunch here.

Verge Genomics (YC S15) Uses Algorithms To Find Drugs For Brain Diseases 1000X Faster

Neurological diseases have historically been very complex to treat. That's partly because brain diseases are caused by complex interactions between many genes, while many researchers and drug discoveries target just one gene at a time.

Verge Genomics is a startup in our current class that takes an algorithmic approach to map out the hundreds of genes that cause a brain disease such as Alzheimers, ALS, and Parkinsons. Verge Genomics then searches for drugs that target all the relevant genes at once. This system means that Verge Analytics can find the right combination of drugs for a brain disease up to 1000 times faster than current approaches.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook interviewed Verge Genomics' co-founders in a story today:

"'I like to use a basketball analogy,' said co-founder Jason Chen. 'Big pharma is taking the approach of covering the best player on the court, whereas we approach the game by spreading out our defense and covering the whole team, man-to-man.'

The plan is to partner with pharmaceutical companies to accelerate what is now an antiquated process of blind testing of single genes. Using the Verge Genomics technology, these companies will be able to locate entire gene networks causing neurodegenerative diseases, as well as using existing approved drugs (which may have expired patents) to treat these diseases while saving time and money."

You can read more about Verge Genomics on TechCrunch here, and participate in the related discussion on Hacker News here.

Shred Video (YC S15) Instantly Turns Raw GoPro Video Into A Cinema-Quality Sports Movie

If you go to any ski mountain or surf spot these days, it seems like just about everyone has a GoPro video camera or an iPhone out to document their best moves. But it's much easier to passively shoot hours of video than it is to fish out the highlights and edit it all down to something watchable.

That's where Shred Video comes in. Shred Video is a startup in our Summer 2015 class with an app that makes it as easy to compose a cinema-quality movie from raw action sports footage as it is to upload photos to a photo album.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook wrote about Shred Video in a story today:

"Shred Video, a new startup launching out of Y Combinator, allows users to take footage from their iPhone, GoPro or drone and simply match it with a song from the user’s iTunes library. That’s all. Shred Video does the rest of the work.

Taking into account the acceleration of the camera itself, Shred Video can pin-point the moments of action for surfers, snowboarders, skaters and other acceleration-based sports to highlight all of the coolest clips in your footage. And beyond that, Shred Video matches those epic moments with the beat-drop of the song."


Shred Video does its magic in around just 10 seconds -- it's pretty amazing to watch. You can see Shred Video in action in the video embedded at the bottom of this post, and read more about the company and its technology in TechCrunch here.


Zeplin (YC S15) Helps Designers And Developers Speak The Same Language

Tensions often flare up between UI designers and front-end developers as a software product is being built. Typically, a UI designer's job is not over once a design is created -- they also have to put hours of work manually preparing "specs" that translate the design into a format that developers can understand. The developers then have to spend a lot of time trying to understand the designer's mindset and looking for the right resources to build the product. The waiting and constant back-and-forth can lead to a lot of frustration between the two sides.

Zeplin is a startup that's in our current class that can help ease these problems, with a collaboration tool that helps UI designers and front-end developers work together quickly and easily.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about Zeplin in an article today:

"This Y Combinator-backed company offers a nicely designed interface that will provide developers with the information they need in order to program the website or app they’re working on. Designers import their completed design file, and Zeplin will automatically provide developers with the project element’s dimensions, colors, and behaviors. It also includes a component that allows designers to create a universal style guide for developers so they won’t have to constantly search for guidelines on how to treat text, buttons, and so on.

The service opened up in beta last September and has more than 30,000 individual users, including teams from Slack, Pinterest, Shopify, and Feedly."

Read more about Zeplin in VentureBeat here, and see the related discussion on Hacker News here.

Alumni Investors

As we have said many times before, we work hard to keep a level playing field for all investors in the YC ecosystem. Helpful early-stage investors that come after YC are crucial to the ongoing success of our companies, and we believe high-quality companies and fairness are the ways to attract them.

Some YC alumni are starting to raise venture funds, and as the YC community gets bigger and more successful, we expect to see more instances of this. 

On the whole, we’re delighted about this.

But we want to be very clear that alumni that raise venture funds are treated as investors and not alumni—for example, they come to regular demo day, not alumni demo day.

We also want to be clear that none of these funds have any special access from YC (though the YC network is pretty tight, and many of the social relationships are strong). Sometimes this point gets lost in the noise and people get confused, so we thought we’d double-clarify this.